Enrollment may fall again in Vancouver

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TheVancouver school board is projecting a further decline in enrollment for the 2007-08 school year. "We could lose another 1,000 this year," NPA board chair Ken Denike told the Straight .

Denike said the gentrification of certain neighbourhoods on Vancouver's East Side could partially explain the drop in student population. He cited in particular what's happening in the neighbourhoods near David Thompson , John Oliver , and Sir Charles Tupper secondary schools.

"If you drive through them, there are a lot of new homes there," Denike said. "Who goes into these new homes are often families with very young kids. They're showing up in the elementary schools but not in high schools."

Denike also said that a number of immigrant families with school-age children aren't settling in Vancouver, opting instead for suburban areas where housing is more affordable.

NPA school trustee Carol Gibson told the Straight that if enrollment falls in 2007-08, it would be the second year in a row. "Last year was the first year we've seen such a decline," Gibson said. "The Vancouver school district had predicted its enrollment very accurately up until that point—within one percent."

Enrollment figures for 2006-07 showed a student shortfall of 1,030. There are approximately 56,000 students in the Vancouver public-school system, not including enrollment in adult and continuing education.

Denike and Gibson both said the board is looking at options ranging from the consolidation of programs to the closure of certain schools.

"We're really talking about doing major changes in 2008," Denike said. "We're going out for consultations and get a view of what the public thinks."